Erin O'Neill takes Fish of the Week honors both for a good fish and a good tale from Caleb Svoboda.
FOTW tops the Midwest Fishing Report each Wednesday in the Sun-Times. An extended online version is posted here by midnight Tuesday.
E-mail nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's Svoboda's story from a late June trip to Lake Galena (with paragraphs separated by me):
Long time reader first time photo submission. I took Erin O'Neill to Galena territory over the weekend and we were able to rent a small flat bottom boat and fish Lake Galena for an afternoon. Now it had been 10 years since I'd fished this lake but knew it had produced for me in the past. This fishing trip was no exception.
I asked the guy at the marina if anyone had been having any luck lately. He said it was slow but that they've seen some bass and crappie action.
As I was walking away he yelled "we got tiger muskie in here too". I kind of laughed to myself because her and I would definitely not be fishing for Muskie.
In fact it was actually only her second time ever fishing. I set her up with a live worm and bobber and I casted with an 8 inch black plastic worm. It didn't take long for her to tangle up her line so I said "let me have it, you fish with mine for awhile". We exchanged poles and I began to untangle the birds nest and I coached her through her first cast with the plastic worm.
As I focused on getting her pole operable again I was surprised to hear her voice climb a few octaves as she shouted with excitement that a fish was chasing the plastic worm. I heard a splash and looked up to see her rod was completely doubled over. I stood up and yelled for her to set the hook, she did so confidently and I asked her to do it a second time.
I now knew she had a huge fish hooked and hooked well. I loosened her drag and went for the video camera knowing that it would be a tough fish to land and all the memory we could preserve the better. Now the guy at the marina's words echoed in my head. "We got tiger muskie in here too" That had to be what we were dealing with and sure enough when I got a look it was indeed a big tiger.
Erin tried several times to bring him to the boat but the fish would explode away from us every time she got him close. The 3rd time was the charm and I knew I'd have a chance at him but I was going to have to land this monster with bare hands since we didn't have a net. I had to get this fish so as I leaned over for him I placed my left hand under the gill plate and my right under his tail. He went wild but somehow I hung on and pulled the beast in the boat.
After we stabilized him Erin took some great shots and we got plenty of video too. It measured a hair over 40 inches and I'd estimate it at 16 or 17 pounds. What a fish and she truly fought it the whole way. Fish was released and was doing fine so that was a relief. Just a fantastic day and an incredible fish that made for a great memory. If you could please consider Erin O'Neill's 40 inch tiger muskie from Lake Galena for fish of the week I would appreciate it greatly.
I appreciate it greatly, too.